Ponson, Abreu lead Yankee charge

Mother Nature spares Pawtucket
Coming soon: A first-base logjam

First, the nitty-gritty: Sidney Ponson throws six innings, gives up three runs on five hits, a walk and a strike out. That’s a win and a quality start. Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi pick up six hits and five RBIs. Mariano Rivera gets a save and makes his first September appearance. The Yanks win and are still, barely, alive.

That’s all well and good. But let’s look a little bit closer at this one. Sidney Ponson threw six innings today and picked up a win. Every time that happens, I feel like I should sacrifice something to the Baseball Gods. In reality, Ponson was on the shortest leash you’ll ever see. Girardi yanked him after a whopping 66 pitches.

This will, of course, give the Yankees another excuse to start Ponson in five days. It will give them another excuse, when they’ve been just about eliminated from postseason contention, to give some washed-up never-was more innings when they could be tossing some of the kids. And it will give me another reason not to watch the game in a few days.

At this point, it’s a small complaint. Ponson won’t be with the team next year, and the Yanks are playing out the season. Tonight’s game definitely had that air of inevitability about it. It’s on the schedule; it has to be played; some team is going to win; and someone has to pitch. Tonight, the cards fell for the Yankees.

If it’s any consolation, this afternoon’s game will have some meaning as Mike Mussina goes for win 18. Meanwhile, I’m just hoping Joba and his rotator cuff are okay. His stuff isn’t quite there yet, and his line sure shows that. The Yanks have a weeks to make sure he’s healthy; they ought to be using him for more than an inning at a time every three days. That seems like small beans though right now, but small beans are all we have left.

Mother Nature spares Pawtucket
Coming soon: A first-base logjam
  • MD

    I dont see where the Yanks replace Abreu….I see Nady in LF, Abreu in RF, and coming up with CF…use Damon at 1B/DH/OF, Posada c/dh/1b…..maybe Baldelli is a cheap answer, with Melky/Gardner backup……then the $ go for pitching.

    • Steve

      Nady RF, Damon CF, Matsui LF.

      Gardner/Melky/Christian as a late inning defensive caddy.

      Matsui’s knees will be healthy next year. His right knee was good this year and then his left one went. So both will be fine this year. Its a bad defensive OF but a good hitting one.

      In any case, I don’t think this will be their OF. They will swing a trade for an outfielder in the off season.

    • radnom

      Matsui doesn’t fit into this plan? I feel like people are forgetting what he can do when healthy.

  • Lanny

    Why are we wasting starts on Ponson?

    We don’t have a single youngster who could use 3 starts in the majors?

    And this team is desperate for offense. And they are just going to get rid of their #3 hitter?

    • Raven

      No, we have no youngster who could throw 3 starts in the majors.
      And just imagine where this team might end up in the AL East standing without Abreu.

  • Raven

    What’s the matter with this team?
    They win when you expect them to lose.
    They lose when you expect them to win.

  • PhilK

    The Ponson start is truly puzzzling. Some commenter a while ago suggested he is eating innings so the Yanks DON”T have to bring up Hughes or Kennedy – he may have been right. I like Hughes vs Colon in the playoffs, just the wrong league.
    Slightly off topic but missing the playoffs doesn’t bother me too much. I’d rather have the Yanks take aim at the WS and miss once in a while then become the Braves (until recently) who always make the playoffs but constantly losing in the first round.

  • Steve

    Bobby is one of the toughest calls we have this off season. The argument for bringing him back is easy. He’s been among the team leaders in RBIs all year. He hits well with RISP, one of our few bright spots in that area this year. He’s still a very productive player, and his Type A free agent status proves it.

    The argument for letting Abreu go would be he’s a player in decline. We all know about his fielding deficiencies. Look at his walk rates over the past 3 years.

    2006-124 BB 1 every 4.40 ABs
    2007-84 BB 1 every 7.20 ABs
    2008-62 BB (est 67) 1 every 8.75 ABs

    For most hitters his age (34) walk rates are the canary in the coal mine. His walk rate this year has been cut IN HALF this from his 2006 total in almost the same number of AB’s (548/543).

    That tells you his bat is slowing down. A lot. Notice the way he’s been swinging at 1st pitch strikes this year where he never used to do that when he first got here. He’s looking to make adjustments, and has maintained a good level of production this year as a result. But he’s going to run out of tricks, and his bat will only continue to slow down further as he ages. The fact that the decline started as early as it has (32) tells me he’s not a fitness fanatic (which I knew after last years spring training anyway) and that there could be a big drop in the offing.

    He’s a bad investment if he requires more than 2 years to resign, and I suspect he will. I replace him with Nady and take the 2 draft picks.

    • CT Yankee

      They have to offer arbitration in order to get the draft picks, and there is really not much risk in doing so. If he accepts he would be overpriced, but just for one year, and he will likely be productive. They need to try to clear the OF log jam through a trade.

      • Steve

        Abreu’s situation is very much like Mussina. He will get multi year contracts elsewhere, so you offer him arbitration and he will most likely decline it.

  • Geno

    Mmmm… small beans…

  • E-ROC

    Put Dan Giese in the rotation to replace Ponson.

    • Steve

      IPK or Hughes.

      Chances are one of them gets traded this off season, showcase both of them to potential suitors. Its possible however, that is why they WON’T bring either of them up. If they struggle they might lower their trade value. But I strongly suspect one of them goes for either a 1B or CF.

  • Neil

    WHY? Giese is 29.
    I agree with keeping Hughes and Kennedy at AAA until the playoffs end. Chances are that they are better off pitching those high pressured games than the low-pressured ones in the bronx.

    Rotation after playoffs:
    Mussina
    Pettite
    Aceves
    Hughes
    Kennedy

    Pavano should be banished into the bullpen. Ponsom DFAed.

    Brett Gardner NEEDS to play. They need to see if he is ready for CF next year. Why not shut down Matsui, and give his ABs to Gardner?
    They should also reduce Damon’s playing time to give Melky some ABs. Same thing with Jeter/Arod/Cano and give Betiemit some playing time.

    They need to see if these guys can produce.

    • Steve

      I’m sorry, but I think you’re way off on about half of your post

      -High pressure AAA games are more valuable than MLB experience?
      -Giese is a journeyman pitcher, he has no upside
      -We’ve seen Melky for 3 years, we know who he is
      -Betemit over A-Rod/Jeter/Cano? Are you serious?

      I’ll agree that they should get a look at the kids like Gardner in CF and I don’t care what happens to Pavano at this point. I also agree there’s no point to sending Ponson out there anymore. Both IPK and Hughes would be well served by getting spots in the rotation in September and that would help further development for both of them.

  • Neil

    Next Season:
    SP Sabathia
    SP Wang
    SP Mussina/Lowe
    SP Pettite
    SP JOBA

    Joba needs to start in the rotation and then move to the pen mid-season. At that point Hughes should be ready to takeover his spot. If not one of Kennedy, Aceves, McAllistor, Kontos, Hacker might be ready.

    Bullpen:
    CP Rivera
    SU Melancoln
    MRP Iwase (Japanese LHRP)
    MRP Rameriz/ Patterson/Robertson/Albaladejo/ect.
    MRP Veras/Patterson/Robertson/Albaladejo/ect.
    MRP Coke
    LRP Geise

    Lineup:
    SS Furcal
    LF Jeter
    1B Damon
    3B Rodriguez
    1B Matsui
    RF Nady
    2B Cano (Should get better pitches to hit in 3-hole)
    -C Posada
    CF Gardner

    Bench:
    -C Molina
    CF Melky
    IF Felepe Lopez
    1B Rich Aurilia

    –or–
    LF Damon
    SS Jeter
    1B Matsui
    3B Rodriguez
    DH Giles
    RF Nady
    2B Cano
    -C Posada
    CF Gardner

    Bench:
    -C Molina
    CF Melky
    IF Felepe Lopez
    1B Rich Aurilia

    Offer Arb. to Pudge(get sup. rd pick), Marte(1st +sup rd), Abreu(1st + sup rd.), (Giambi sup rd), Mussina(if he leaves 1st + sup rd.)

    Lose 1st rd pick for CC, and possibly 2nd rd for Furcal.

    We could have 3-4 1st rd picks (including this yrs), and 4-5 sup. rd. picks for next yrs draft.

    • Steve

      I have a feeling you will spend most of this off season disappointed.

      Just a hunch.

  • Neil

    matsui should be DH in the 1st lineup senerio

  • Steve

    I’m bored. Here’s my 2009 Yankees

    RF-Nady
    CF-??Baldelli??
    LF-Damon
    1B-Adrian Gonzalez via trade for IPK/Gardner/Romine/Miranda
    2B-Cano
    SS-Jeter
    3B-A-Rod
    C-Posada

    Rotation
    CC Sabathia-6 years 141 mil
    Wang
    Joba
    AJ Burnett
    Pettitte-Bring back for 1 yr 10 mil

    With Hughes/Aceves/Eric Milton/Dan Giese/Victor Zambrano in AAA in case of injury

    Bullpen
    Mo
    Marte-decline 6 mil option and bring back 2-10 mil
    Bruney
    Veras
    Edwar
    Phil Coke
    with Melancon/Sanchez as mid season call ups

    -You may have to sub A-Jax for Gardner in the Gonzalez deal. I still make the deal.

    -I don’t like Burnett and don’t trust him to always give a solid effort. But Hughes has earned an injury prone tag and I’m not sure you can trust him to show up at all. AJ strikes me as a guy with great stuff and a lousy makeup, but I suspect Hughes gets dealt for a good young CF. Its also possible they keep Hughes to take over Pettitte’s spot in 2010 and sign a CF like Baldelli to a short term deal. That would be my preference. If Baldelli breaks down you plug in Melky or Gardner.